In pictures: Ensuring the security of international Geneva | April 2016

April 2016


The International Security Police (PSI) of the Geneva Police guarantees the daily security of international Geneva. A work carried out in complete discretion.

The International Security Police (PSI) of the Geneva Police, with more than 200 employees, guarantees the daily security of international Geneva. The task is not small. With 177 States represented by a permanent mission and 39 international organizations, Geneva is one of the most active centres for multilateral diplomacy. Each year not less than 3,000 visiting Heads of State, ministers and other dignitaries come to Geneva to attend meetings, conferences and sensitive negotiations.

Its Close Protection Detachment (DPR) precisely and discretely provides the protection of John Kerry, Sergueï Lavrov, Laurent Fabius, Ban Ki-moon and other figures during their stay in Geneva. The 19 specialists of DPR are also in charge of securing the inside of a site during international conferences, like the Iran Talks at the Intercontinental Hotel. It's a demanding job which requires continuous training in various domains - shooting, self-defense, driving of escorts - coupled with an acute sense of diplomacy and protocol. Per year no less than 143 missions are carried out.

Besides the close protection tasks, unique in Switzerland, the PSI also takes care of the security of international organizations, embassies and diplomatic residences on Geneva ground through diplomatic patrols. It is supported in this mission by Swiss soldiers and private security guards. In total, there are more than 60 sites watched daily, 24 hours a day, sometimes involving three passages a day, according to risk and threats.

How are these threats estimated? "We work by mandate of the Swiss Confederation. It passes on, via the Federal department of security, information concerning the figures and diplomatic sites to be protected," explains Major Peter Brander, head of the PSI since September 2012. Moreover, the Swiss Confederation financially supports Geneva for the protection of international Geneva's actors.

The PSI also ensures the security of Geneva airport: runways, planes, buildings, as well as the entire perimeter. Through regular trainings, in particular on the airport tarmac, the PSI and the special units of the Geneva police are ready to intervene in case of emergency, hostages or hijacking, as was the case during the recent hijacking of an Ethiopian Airlines plane in Geneva.

If we do not hear about the PSI's actions, it is because the work is done in complete discretion. Not only that—it is also because it works. Over the years, the PSI agents have created numerous links with the various actors of international Geneva: diplomats, UN security guards or agency directors, and visiting dignitaries. Confidentiality doesn't allow agents to speak about their daily life and their encounters, just certain anecdotes without quoting names, date or country. Through these stories, we can understand the extent of their missions, which often go well beyond security and make them real ambassadors of international Geneva. 

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